Small business owners are easily some of the busiest people out there. As a small business owner, there is a whole lot on your plate. You don’t tend to have lots of employees working for you, which means you almost need to be the jack of all trades, taking on many roles within your company. Not only that but often there are no such things as set hours Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm and you tend to work pretty much whenever needed.
Part of owning your own company is getting out there in front of clients, customers, vendors, suppliers, and partners and striking up new deals and relationships. Being visible can help to build your brand’s image and awareness within the industry. What this also means is that travel may be part of the job, as you travel both within the country and internationally in order to make deals and sign contracts.
If you’ve been feeling as though you’ve been away more than usual, and you’ve got a big international business trip coming up, you may have a unique opportunity in front of you. While the goal is to be productive from a business standpoint, it may also be possible to combine it with a fabulous family getaway. Here are some practical tips and advice you can use to seamlessly marry the two types of travel.
Get Everyone’s Travel Documents in Order
First things first, in order to travel internationally everyone will need a valid passport. Now is the time to look into passport renewal for the whole family. The great news is that you can renew a passport online, which can save a whole lot of time and inconvenience. Ideally, you want to renew a passport during the off-season, as the waiting period will be much shorter. The off-season is relatively short, unfortunately, and runs from September until the end of December.
As for how to go about renewal, you can renew a passport in a few different ways. To help you through the passport renewal process, you can also use the UK Passport Company. It offers advice and UK passport services, which mean the stress and confusion are taken out of the mix. If your trip is just a couple of weeks away, it can be even more beneficial. Their website is also filled with tips and facts regarding travel around the world.
You can renew by post, renew in person (ideal if the passport is an urgent service), or as mentioned you can renew online, which tends to be the fastest and most convenient.
As far as the timeline goes, renewing in person is ideal if you have travel coming up within the next four weeks; renewing by post takes about 2-4 weeks, and renewing online is 2-4 weeks as well. Keep in mind the urgent service is the only one that guarantees the passport within a specified timeframe (seven days with a fast track service).
Pick a Centrally Located Hotel
Now that everyone’s travel documents are in order, it’s time to give thought to accommodations. When it’s just you travelling for business it’s likely that you pick accommodations based on proximity to any meetings, conferences, and seminars you may attend. While you can still keep this in mind, it may be smarter to book a centrally located hotel that is close to attractions, entertainment, and dining.
Because you will be combining a business trip with pleasure, there will be times where you will be off working and in meetings while your family is back at the hotel. At least by having it in a central location, they can head out and do a little exploring while they wait for you to join them. If you don’t plan on renting a car, it’s also wise to pick a hotel that is near public transportation, or an area where it’s easy to hail a taxi.
As well, it’s a good idea to pick a family-friendly hotel and room. What this means is that there are amenities that appeal specifically to families such as an on-site pool, on-site dining, over-sized rooms that allow families more space, the ability to ask for a cot or crib, and Wi-Fi throughout so you can work right from your room.
Create a Work Schedule for Yourself
You also want to be mindful of your schedule. Sure it is a business trip and there is probably a lot you want to accomplish, but you also want to be sure you have free time leftover. Often the best plan is to create a work schedule that you stick to.
Your schedule should include all your travel and lodging details, any commitments you have made to business contacts, and include any extra time needed for calls, writing up documents, and deals and then print that out. This will help to keep you organized, on schedule, and you can give a copy to your significant other so they also know what to expect from you and when and how they can reach you if needed. Once you’ve got that schedule then you can start to plan out your free time better.
Make a Must-See and Must-Do List
In terms of the family vacation, it’s a good idea to make a must-see and must-do list before you leave home. This can act as your loose itinerary so that no time goes by wasted. Now there will need to be some flexibility built into that itinerary as things pop up and change, but at least you have a general idea of the things you’d like to do.
If you’re travelling to a destination you’ve never visited before, be sure to spend some time doing research before you leave. This is how you’ll discover all the must-see sights and attractions, get tips on how to travel around, find out what restaurants offer the best cuisine, where the best shopping deals are, and just get a general idea of what to expect from the destination.
Ensure You Add Some Extra Days to the Trip
Another tip is to make sure that your trip extends past the actual work-portion. What this means is that if you have meetings for three days, you want to ensure the trip is at least a few days longer. These extra days can be designated as family-time. This can help to alleviate some of the stress or pressure you may be feeling to hurry up and wrap things up while in meetings. By having that extra time at the end of the trip, you know you’ll get plenty of family time.
Set Clear Expectations Before Leaving
The final tip has to do with how you can discuss the upcoming trip with your family. It needs to be clear that first and foremost it is a business trip. Let everyone know that you will be busy for the first portion of the trip, not around much, and may be a bit stressed. Let everyone know during that time they can explore and occupy themselves, and then when you wrap things up you can join them.
With younger kids especially it can be helpful to discuss how things will go so they aren’t questioning each and everything while on holidays. Keeping everyone’s expectations realistic also helps the trip to be more enjoyable.
A Great Way to Enjoy Some Family Travel Time
While a business trip may seem like a very cut and dry trip, by taking the time to do a little pre-planning and planning your work time wisely, you can turn a business trip into a fabulous family getaway.